Rhode Island, Alaska shift to mail-in primaries due to coronavirus

Alaska and Rhode Island shifted their primary elections to be predominantly held by mail-in voting on Monday due to the global COVID-19 outbreak. Photo by Gary I Rothstein/UPI

March 23 (UPI) — Alaska and Rhode Island on Monday became the most recent states to alter presidential primary plans in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Alaska Democratic Party canceled in-person voting in the state scheduled for April 4, and expanded the ability to vote by mail by extending the deadline to mail in ballots from March 24 to March 10.

“We want to continue to allow for maximum participation in this historic primary while respecting the health and safety of our voters and volunteers.”

The Alaska Republican Party also announced its Republican state convention, scheduled for April 2-4 will convene electronically.

In Rhode Island, Gov. Gina Raimondo signed an executive order postponing the state’s primary election from April 28 to June 2 and said the Board of Elections will work with the secretary of state to hold a predominantly mail ballot primary.

“A predominantly mail ballot election will ensure that all eligible Rhode Islanders can cast a ballot in a safe and secure manner while protecting the integrity of every vote. Our first step in the coming weeks will be to send all registered voters a mail ballot application with a postage-paid return envelope,” Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea said in a statement.

The moves toward mail-in primaries come after Hawaii took similar measures and Wyoming canceled its in-person caucuses, instead offering mail-in ballots and ballot drop-off locations.

Additionally, Connecticut, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland and Puerto Rico have each moved to postpone their primaries due to the outbreak.

In Ohio, the state legislature is working to determine when the state’s primary will take place as Gov. Mike DeWine ordered the polls closed on the eve of its primary last Tuesday.


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